Tag Archives: Strategy

Kick start innovation in your company

Next trends in Innovation

Are you tasked with Innovation in your company but don’t know where to begin? Do you find that you are battling to get support from senior management because their attention is absorbed in their day-to-day duties? Are the executives unwilling to invest in innovation because it has failed in the past or it is too intangible to measure?

If you are facing these challenges, you are not alone. In a recent survey we did on the state of innovation in South African companies, we found that these were some of the most common challenges. So how do you get something as fuzzy as innovation onto your EXCO’s agenda? We suggest that you look for some tangible opportunities which you can present to them and get their buy-in. You need a programme to kick start innovation.

The kick start programme for innovation identifies the opportunities for companies to innovate themselves into the future and takes a systemic approach to understanding the impact and investment required to make the innovation successful.

Most innovation programmes concentrate on one of two things:

  •  Equipping people to be more innovative by providing systems, designing innovation processes, creativity training, cultural interventions and defining measurement etc. or
  • Driving specific innovation through campaigns designed to achieve general or specific objectives. Generally these campaigns are reward driven based on soliciting the greatest number of ideas. More sophisticated companies employ mechanisms to reward the quality of ideas.

The kick start programme is a hybrid of these two. We look for opportunities to realise value from innovation while providing insight into the innovation process which the participants can learn from and use in future planning.

Evidence suggests that companies which proactively and deliberately design their future are significantly superior performers in the long term. Superior performance is almost never about the amount of money spent. Booz Allen Hamilton found there is almost no relationship at all between spending on innovation and superior financial returns. What they did discover, was that those companies with a deliberate innovation process with links to corporate strategy and customer needs – achieved up to 40% higher growth in their operating income as a result. – James Gardner. Your kick start programme we will help you to identify deliberate innovation processes related to specific opportunities.

The approach is very practical aimed at realising early wins from innovation, whilst also raising the understanding the innovation landscape and identifying opportunities.

The main objective is to create strategic alignment, identify main points of impact and develop a portfolio for innovation that directs planning in the future.

In any innovation project, it is essential to create a shared mental model between all the stakeholders. This forms the background of any innovation strategy and unlocking opportunities. It consists of the rigorous examination of all parts of the company or division to see how they hang together.

Then we examine modern trends which are impacting on the organisation, the business’ objectives and opportunities arising from these trends, the stakeholders, skill sets, structures, markets, business structures, processes as well as the network of suppliers and partners and the customer environment. Then we examine at every point, what the opportunities are to innovate to:

  •        Increase productivity at lower costs;
  •        Increase competitiveness in a global market place; and
  •        Develop and improve on products and services
  •        Open up future markets.

The outcomes of a kick off programme should include:

  •        Defining the meaning of innovation for your company;
  •        Designing a basic innovation portfolio:
  •        Defining core innovation focus areas, incremental vs. radical innovation, risk management, innovation funding etc.
  •        Identify the key innovation objectives to be achieved;
  •        Developing basic next-steps plans to develop the ideas and take them to fruition;
  •        An indication of how innovation success will be measured; and
  •        Innovation recognition mechanisms and provide basic guidelines in this regard.

From this programme you should be in a position to present the business case for innovation including tangible outcomes of your innovation. This will help you to manage your executive’s expectation and get their commitment to innovation as a critical part of your company’s competitive advantage in the future.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of innovation and technology. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges has recognised the changes to the business environment, brought about by enterprise technologies like SharePoint 2010, social media and gamification and is focussed on this.

We partner with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

We have also partnered with Innocentrix to bring Spigit Innovation software into this country. Spigit is an innovation platform built either in JAVA or native to SharePoint 2010. It uses social business and game mechanics to enable organisations to innovate at scale.

We offer Innovation services to grow organisations and equip them for change. This includes Innovation strategies, culture interventions, measurement tools and campaign development to release the power of Innovation.

Digital Bridges relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, innovation, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit http://www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

 

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Is the next Steve Jobs in your company?

As the world hears with sadness of the passing of one of the greatest innovators on earth, Steve Jobs, Sir Alan Sugar reminds us that Apple’s success is due to a number of inventors and designers within the company.

In an interview on Sky news, Sir Alan talked about the number of people within Apple who were responsible for the impressive range of products which have changed the way we communicate and engage with the world.

Apple’s success is not purely attributable to Steve Jobs’ vision, but also in part to the innovative culture which he created. He recognised that Innovation is key to Apple’s competitive advantage and the entire organisation is designed to support and foster innovation.

Many organisations recognise that Innovation is an integral part of their future survival, but are so risk averse that they are not prepared to experiment, nor are they designed to foster Innovation. Rather they are so involved with the day to day operational running that Innovation is an add on.

Employees are a great source of ideas. Very often they are in a better position to spot opportunities from their vantage point, serving customers or as users of your products and services. These ideas may not be radical, the equivalent to an iDevice, but could be incremental improvements which change the way we compete. We need to find better ways to listen to them.

Steve Jobs was a visionary and creative genius, but he surrounded himself with great people who also had great ideas, his genius was also in communicating with and listening to them.

RIP Steve Jobs, you changed the world.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the innovation and technology. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges has recognised the changes to the business environment, brought about by enterprise technologies like SharePoint 2010, social media and gamification and is focussed on this.

We partner with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

We have also partnered with Innocentrix to bring Spigit Innovation software into this country. We offer Innovation services to grow organisations and equip them for change. This includes Innovation strategies, culture interventions, measurement tools and campaign development to release the power of Innovation.

Digital Bridges relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, innovation, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit http://www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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Is your organisation designed to innovate?

Many organisations are recognising the need to innovate their futures; however they are designed to maintain the status quo.

In the 1990’s when large organisations were trying to take the fat out of their processes, they worked out how to do things more efficiently by standardising and automating their processes. This may have cut costs and instilled the governances required to mitigate risk, but it came at the cost of agility. This thinking was driven as a response to competition. The assumption was that if you could do the same thing, more efficiently or effectively, you could compete more effectively. With the introduction of ISO 9000 and many other governing structures into hierarchically designed organisations, command and control became the order to the day.

With globalisation, it was not only the local market that changed, but global supply and demand. The expansion of the Internet, technological advances and more demanding and sophisticated consumers has further transformed the competitive landscape. Competition now comes from the most unexpected places, new opportunities abound and standardisation has led to unintended consequences. Business models, rigid processes and organisational designs that responded to the way things were, are now simply irrelevant.

Organisations now employ Knowledge Workers and need to relook the way that they harness these collective brains to exploit these opportunities. Unfortunately many of them are so involved with operational issues which are entrenched in the ways organisations are designed, that Innovation is rarely afforded the attention it requires.

Lots of organisations are discussing the importance of Innovation, but they are simply not set up to be Innovative. For example, what does an employee, who serves customers, do with a great idea about how to improve the service? Do you know whether there are universal aggravations in service delivery, which could be solved by a service delivery technician’s bright idea? Is the next great product idea on the mind of an employee, employed in another division, who is also a customer of your business and uses your products every day? Do you have a culture which fosters and stimulates Innovative thinking? Do you have the tools to enable them to collaborate with each other to come up with and develop ideas?

Many companies have Innovation managers and programmes designed around getting ideas from their employees, but these are often an add-on to the already over loaded job descriptions. They are not integrated into the way employees work. A prize or acknowledgement of an idea once a year, or 5% of KPA’s might generate a lot of ideas, but are they quality ideas or just popular, poorly thought through rehashes of old ideas?

Innovation is not just about great ideas; it is about the successful implementation of those ideas. Is your organisation able to respond holistically to those ideas? Are your financial systems set up to be able to accommodate new business models? Are your sales teams equipped to sell into new markets? Can your HR team identify the new skills that you require and adjust the remuneration for them accordingly? Do you attract the brightest minds available?

Innovation and agility need to become part of the way the modern organisation conducts business or its days will be numbered.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the innovation and technology. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges has recognised the changes to the enterprise environment, brought about by enterprise technologies like social media and SharePoint 2010 and is focussed on this. We partner with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

We have also partnered with Innocentrix to bring Spigit Innovation software into this country. We offer Innovation services to grow organisations and equip them for change. This includes Innovation strategies, culture interventions, measurement tools and campaign development to release the power of Innovation.

Digital Bridges relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

 

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Game mechanics increases employee collaboration and innovation

With social media incorporated into most enterprise technologies, like SharePoint 2010, we now have the ability to collaborate and innovate at scale.

The challenge is that traditionally in the knowledge economy employees were rewarded for what and who they knew, and it is counterintuitive for most employees to share this. So how do we change this behaviour to reap the synergies of multiple minds? Well one of the ways is to reward employees. Employees get paid to do their work and I am not for a minute suggesting that they get financially remunerated every time they collaborate. Game mechanics is another way to reward employees over and above their task driven remuneration by making working together more fun.

At Digital Bridges, we have developed a technology adoption model, which can be extended into changing most behaviour. This model says that people will adopt a technology (or behave in a desired way) if there are three conditions in place – they must see the point, it must be easy to do and they need to look and feel good doing it.

So how do we get people to collaborate and innovate? We make collaboration and innovation part of what they are paid to do on a daily basis through strategic alignment, ergo they see the point. We make it easy to do by aligning it with the organisational processes and we make them look and feel good by turning collaboration and sharing into a game.

Game mechanics are constructs of rules intended to produce an enjoyable, engaging game-like experience. They can take the form of competitions or rewards or other enjoyable activities which are designed to elicit certain behaviours. Games are a tremendously powerful medium to captivate employee attention.

Some forms of game mechanics have been used for centuries, while others are relatively new, having been invented within the past decade with the advent of social media.

Conversations about game mechanics are changing. Formerly a topic mostly discussed by game designers and gamer geeks, gamification is now part of the business discussion. In the burgeoning world of gamification, Gartner predicts that half of innovation-based companies will be gamified by 2015.

Game mechanics also allow you to reach both your passive and enthusiastic employees.

Let’s break the business down by common social business tools and target ways to effectively gamify them.

1. Getting contributions

Whether it is ideas you want, or just content which will improve a proposal, you need to encourage people to participate.

By incentivising contributions, employees become more engaged; this makes their work richer and more dynamic. For example top contributors could get accredited for great quality contributions by letting others rate or “like” them and measuring the numbers. The person with the most votes gets points and they earn a reputation for being innovative or adding value.

In addition to this great ideas are automatically “crowdsourced” to the top, because they are the ideas voted the best by the employees. This reduces the amount of management time in evaluating the contribution. A word of caution though, it is important to ensure that there are rules in place for determining what a good idea or contribution is, otherwise the most popular idea, such as “double all employees salaries” will receive the most endorsement from employees.

2. Collaboration

Collaboration is mostly achieved through simple vehicles like comments, ratings or reviews.
You could reward comments on other people’s contributions. Perhaps allow “weighted commentary” where the people associated with the best comments get a higher weight attributed to them based on the community’s votes by using algorithms to drive the weighting up based on the value they add. This kind of reward gives the most active users a highly desirable reputation within the organisation for adding value to a project or as a great team player.

Sharing is also a form of collaboration and can prove incredibly useful in syndicating ideas and content. With gamification elements rewarding users for sharing, users feel even more compelled to syndicate contributions.

One way is to have users work toward a larger overall goal or ranking as a result of sharing. Doing so gives people the idea that sharing has value, but does not drive toward mindless clicking. Instead, they’ll share what actually matters to them instead of just spamming their networks.

Contributions such as documents and templates could also be shared back to people’s content. For example someone could see a proposal to a client which is similar to something they have prepared in the past and they could attach a document containing relevant background information to the proposal.

3. Keeping Score

Any good game mechanics implementation goes out of its way to show the audience an indicator of their progress within the activity they are participating in. You do this by integrating game mechanics into activity feeds and leader boards. These activity feeds not only allow users to view their ratings and ranks, but also to find other like minded employees.

4. Cashing out

You can enable employees the cash out their points for tangible and intangible rewards such as vouchers for duvet days or other privileges. Maybe you want to give cash rewards, but don’t be surprised to find that position on the leader board and recognition for their efforts is reward in itself.

One additional advantage to game mechanics relates to problem solving. Games are inherently puzzles. This builds a kind of mental muscle memory amongst employees for troubleshooting. A gamer gets to a point where a problem solution is instinctive rather than requiring thought. This will make our organisations vastly more efficient at innovation and collaboration at scale.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges has recognised the changes to the enterprise environment, brought about by enterprise technologies like social media and SharePoint 2010 and is focussed on this. We partner with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

We have also partnered with Innocentrix to bring Spigit Innovation software into this country.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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Filed under Business, Collaboration, Crowdsourcing, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Innovation, Interactive Intranets

Please take part in our poll into Innovation in South Africa

Innocentrix and Digital Bridges are conducting an opinion poll on organisational innovation practises in South Africa. The purpose of the poll is to deepen our understanding of current innovation trends in the South African market and to specifically look at innovation approaches and tools. We intend for the results to be published in an industry specific magazine or other relevant media channels.

 

We would really appreciate your assistance and input. We promise not to divulge your details nor that of your company. Not ever, not even if we are threatened or tortured ….never!

 

The poll should not take longer than 10-15 min to complete and the closing date for submissions is 21 September 2011. If you would like a copy of the final report or would like to discuss these trends, please send an e-mail to henra@innocentrix.co.za and we will be in contact with you.

 

Thank you so much for making a difference to South African innovation efforts.

 

Please click on the link below to complete the survey.

 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=Iqd7M1J_2fB5XALcq3NIGxyw_3d_3d

 

Go on, you know you want to, you have lots to say, just do it! It’s fun to make a difference.

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Mindsets and Innovation into the future

We are watching markets tumble and increasingly it looks like a double dip recession is on the cards. Last time the global economy wobbled, we had come out of a period of growth. We had money to pump into the markets, fat to take out of the system, greed to blame and the wear-with-all to spend our way out. Nowadays it may require a complete rethink to address the economic downswing.

Inherently our thinking has been guided by our experience, but confronted by a new series of variables that we haven’t seen before, we need to address the thought architecture which informs our decision making.

For example, the banking sector is very risk averse and is guided by credit risk, rather than economic growth. This means that credit is effectively granted to those people who don’t need it. This effectively excludes most of our population from the opportunity to become entrepreneurs.

In the recession of 2008, those people who were most at risk, lost their jobs and livelihoods. This time around it is going to be those people who were economically less at risk, who will be left blinking in the train light wondering what happened. People who were secure in their jobs and with sensible saving plans are going to feel the fall out.

Already London is falling victim to the mob violence, perpetrated by marginalised youth who have seen their parents exposed to the austerity measures, losing out on health care, the job market and support. This youth is using social media to propogate their agendas. No-one is condoning the looting and violence and we recognise that this has been taken advantage of by criminal elements, but the underlying truth is that the economy forms the backdrop to some very disturbing events. Social media is not only a weapon for good, but also a weapon for social mayhem. Human behaviour, good and bad is exacerbated.

The only way out of this potential crisis is to change our way of thinking and to reinvent our response to a new economic future, whether we are individuals, businesses or politicians. We need to recognise that more people are disenfranchised and that it is not just bad people who are losing out.

The world has changed; we need to innovate to meet new challenges. Perhaps we need to start looking at the fundamental variables which have changed, like the economy, societal changes, globalisation and social media to adjust our thinking.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges has recognised the changes to the enterprise environment, brought about by enterprise technologies like social media and SharePoint 2010 and is focussed on this. We partner with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

We have also partnered with Innocentrix to bring Spigit Innovation software into this country.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903366504576490841235575386.html

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Filed under Business, Enterprise 2.0, Innovation, Internet, Macroeconomics 2.0

Collaboration for competitive advantage

As many organisations are rolling out enterprise platforms with social media tools like SharePoint 2010 or Spigit Innovation software, they need to look at their ability to optimise collaboration to unlock the power within their knowledge workers.

Collaboration is working together to achieve a goal. Many organisations who are exploring the use of social media tools seem to regard collaboration as limited to comments, votes and “likes”. Rather, it needs to be a coordinated effort to reach stated goals.

Collaboration is a repetitive process where people and/or organisations work together to realise shared goals. These goals could be the deployment of a project, development of an innovation or putting together a proposal. This is a deep, collective, determination to reach an identical objective.

Organisations need to look at their collaboration processes, who should be involved, what the goals are and what information people need in order to ensure that they get the best results.

Up until now we haven’t had the wherewithal to collaborate at scale. Time and geography have often impeded robust collaboration. With the advent of social media and increased quality of data and enterprise technology with social media capabilities, we now have the ability to maximise the collective brain power of our employees.

There are a number of considerations when we embark on collaboration in large enterprises:

– What is the goal we intend to achieve?

– Who is going to lead the collaboration initiative?

– What are the impediments to collaboration? These could include

Access to information and knowledge

Culture and siloed thinking

Anti-collaborative processes, such as corporate governance or policies

– What are the tools we need for collaboration?

Do we need real world space, like boardrooms?

Will other social media tools, like IM, likes, ranks and posts enhance collaboration?

Enterprise platforms can push or recommend information to the users based on the project or the user profile or similar information that has been accessed in the past.

What templates can we develop to enhance collaboration

– Which skills and experiences should be co-opted onto collaborative projects? These could include:

Analytical

Project

Decision

Networking and Negotiation

Industry

Technical

Professional etc.

But of course collaboration is not a panacea for improving how organisations function. Many processes and job functions are repetitive and transactional and require no collaboration at all. Rather, collaborative behaviour will impede the smooth functioning of the organisation. However, it is clear that teams that work collaboratively obtain greater resources, recognition and reward when facing competition for finite resources.

It is time that organisations started exercising the collaborative muscle to take on the ever changing market.

Hansen, Morten T “Collaboration” 2009 Harvard Business Press

McKinseys

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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Filed under Business, Collaboration, Crowdsourcing, Digital Communities, Enterprise 2.0, Innovation